I think I can name every title referenced in that picture. From left to right, Shugo Chara!, Magic Knight Rayearth, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Kill la Kill, Cardcaptor Sakura, Sailor Moon, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and Princess Tutu. How’d I do?
Happy Mother’s Day. I should have a review up tomorrow, and then of course we’ll have another chapter of Jake and the Dynamo on Monday.
This is the second installment of the visual history of magical girl anime from SourcererZZ. So far I’m quite impressed by this series.
Only one of the series that he discusses in this installment is readily available. The long-lost and decidedly obscure English dub of the 1982 series Minky Momo showed up mysteriously and without explanation on Amazon Video last year. Unfortunately, it’s packaged as a series of movies, each containing four or five episodes, which Amazon is selling for the exorbitant price of $14.95 a piece. The movies don’t appear to contain the entirety of the series. There are thirteen such movies, so at the current price, that comes out to a whopping $194.35.
I recently found this series of videos on the history of mahou shoujo anime by SourcererZZ. Somehow, he’s managed to dredge up clips from early shows, including some that are quite hard to find. He seems to know his subject very well. Depending on what he gets into, some of his later videos might be NSFW, but this first one is a pretty good overview of the evolution of the genre from its origins with Sally the Witchto the early 1970s with Cutie Honey (that last getting a little racy toward the end of the video).
He’s a little hard to understand and rather quiet, but if you turn on the closed captions, he’s added accurate subtitles.
I wrote my own list of top magical girl anime once, and it looked rather different. It’s unfortunate how quickly stuff goes out of print in both anime and manga. If you don’t get it when it’s out, it might be gone, and unless some streaming site archives it or it gets a re-release, you might not be able to find it at all. It can become more-or-less impossible to acquire, as in my fruitless quest to find a set of Creamy Mami, or prohibitively expensive, as in that opportunist on Amazon who wants seventy-five bucks for the final volume of Sugar Sugar Rune, which they tell me is the greatest of the “cute witch” magical girl stories, except I wouldn’t know because, well, seventy-five bucks? Seriously? My magical girls are precious to me, but so are my dead presidents.
I’m grateful for re-releases or longer running releases when they happen. All the furor over some bad decisions aside, I’m glad Viz picked up the original Sailor Moon to release the whole thing with subtitles, and I’m quite pleased with my collector’s set of Revolutionary Girl Utena, a series I have a love-hate relationship with. And I really like my DVD set of Princess Tutu, which in my humble opinion might be the greatest magical girl series ever made (yeah, yeah, Madoka, whatever). It was also when Crunchyroll started archiving more older shows that I finally decided to pay them for a subscription. Specifically, it was when they got a set of Cardcaptor Sakura, another series I have a love-hate relationship with.
By way of an update, I’ve been so busy getting Jake and the Dynamo going that I’m behind on other projects. I should have a review posted this week, at least. Jake and the Dynamo will have a new chapter every Monday for as long as I can sustain that pace, which will be at least three months. Then I might change the schedule if necessary.
I’m also tweaking the look here. This blog’s only a few weeks old, and it’s still running on the default theme. For the time being, J&tD have their own spot in the sidebar, and the chapters will also be navigable.
I get the impression from the hand-wringing that there are people on the internet who think Hollywood’s casting directors can create actors and actresses ex nihilo. They have to work with what they have, people.
Are you upset about Scarlett Johansson starring in a Hollywood adaptation of a Japanese anime? Okay, then name me an A-list Japanese actress in Hollywood. I mean that seriously; I don’t keep tabs on Hollywood and I am aware that there exist a lot of allegedly A-list actors whose names I don’t know.
Oh, excuse me, it seems most of the internet isn’t complaining that Johansson is not Japanese, but that she’s not Asian. But surely you don’t think Asian people are interchangeable and all alike, do you … do you? If the role of the Major were being played by a Pakistani or White Russian, that is, someone Asian, would you be satisfied?
Tell me: exactly when did Hollywood get Ahnenpass rules? Since when are actors and actresses supposed to be judged on melanin content or genetic heritage rather than, say, talent? It must be quite recent: I don’t remember anyone whinging about white actors in Speed Racer, which was also an American movie based on a Japanese cartoon. Oddly enough, I do remember the internet whinging a great deal about white actors in The Last Airbender, which was an American movie based on … um … an American cartoon.
“But the cartoon characters are Asian!” the internet cried. No they weren’t. They came from magical element land, spoke American slang, and behaved like American teens. They were about as Asian as a pan-Asian cuisine fast food stall, but that didn’t stop busybodies and scolds from tarring M. Night Shyamalan as a racist, which no doubt completely blindsided him: no one has any hope of accurately predicting what will offend the Twitterati and Tumblrinas.
And because the rage and offense of Twitter cannot be predicted, there is no point in trying to avoid giving that offense. The executives at the studio making the Ghost in the Shell movie should answer the self-appointed internet moral guardians with a giant middle finger. If they do, I will see the movie. If they kiss butt instead, I’ll skip it.
It’s not “whitewashing.” It’s just practicality. Movies made in a place cast actors from that place. In Bollywood, it’s customary to depict characters of European descent by slapping a wig on an Indian actor. And I can’t tell you how many anime I’ve seen with allegedly foreign characters who speak Japanese fluently and with a flawless accent. Sometimes they speak their “native” language (usually English) with such a thick Japanese accent I can’t understand them. For example, check out the “English” girl from Kinmoza. It’s pretty funny. But does it offend me that a Japanese woman is playing an English girl? No, because I’m not that petty.
People claiming to be offended by this are trying to introduce a moral principle they cannot possibly apply consistently. The inevitable result will be hypocrisy such as we see in people condemning Johansson playing the Major while insisting we need a non-English James Bond. No casting director could possibly obey such a harsh rule, and historically, casting directors have not. Remember Scotty from Star Trek? Not actually Scottish. How about Sean Connery in Hunt for Red October? Not Russian.
When a person acts, he plays someone he’s not, someone with a different life and different history, and yes, possibly a different race, from his own. That’s why it’s called acting.
And just to be clear here, this is the character we’re talking about:
I learned something new today while browsing the web. I didn’t know that turning out magical girl mascots was a regular thing for Microsoft.
I do however remember that back in 2013 there was a little buzz over the video featuring a personified Internet Explorer:
If this personified Explorer was more realistic, her transformation sequence would take fifteen minutes to load, and she’d crash unexpectedly right in the middle, only to find herself standing in the street, completely naked. Heck, even Microsoft has now given up on Explorer: they’ve replaced it with something called Edge. I bet nobody actually uses that one, either.